Family unification – known as family joining – is the granting of asylum or refugee status to dependent family members of recognised asylum-seekers or refugees in South Africa (which is set out at Section 3(c) of the Refugees Act). In other words, asylum and refugee families can be documented together in one file. Family joining is important as it maintains a family unit – an important part of building stability and ensuring proper refugee protection in South Africa.
Dependents include spouses, children and destitute, aged or frail family members. A spouse includes those marriages registered in terms of either a civil or customary union. Children includes any person under the age of 18 years.